Sixty years later, the pain still cuts like a knife, the sadness still overwhelms when mention is made of the Our Lady of the Angels School fire. One of the most devastating tragedies in the history of Chicago, the fire on On Dec. 1, 1958, at the Catholic grammar school on the West Side would take the lives of 92 students and three nuns.
Through various commemorations on Saturday and Sunday, Chicago will remember the lives lost, their families, the survivors, the first responders and a city that was forever changed.
Cardinal Blase Cupich will officiate at a mass at 2 p.m. at Mission of Our Lady of the Angels church at Iowa and Avers. OLA school alum/fire survivor Jonathan Cain (keyboardist for Journey) will be in attendance and performing “The Day They Became Angels,” a song he wrote about the tragedy.
A performance by the Royal Airs Drum Corps will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, where a memorial marks the final resting place for many of the victims.
The 5 p.m. mass at Holy Family Church, 1080 W. Roosevelt, on Sunday will honor the memory of the victims.
Historian Jim Gibbons will give a presentation on the fire at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Robert J. Quinn Fire Academy, 558 W. De Koven.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, WTTW-Channel 11 Prime will air its 2003 Emmy Award-winning documentary “Angels Too Soon,” the story of the fire as told through archival footage and first-hand accounts. The film, narrated by the late John Callloway, also takes a look at the fire’s aftermath, which would ultimately lead to sweeping nationwide changes in school safety design and fire safety codes.